Like much of the planet, I am enamoured by the fantasy world author George R.R. Martin has created for his “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. The books serve as the basis for the television show, A Game of Thrones, so anything set there will have a built-in audience. The collection “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” contains three previously published novellas set in the kingdom of Westeros about a hundred years before the action detailed on television. The main characters are a hedge knight named Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire Egg. Unlike many knights, Ser Duncan also known as Dunk is a man of honour who spends much of this time trying to right wrongs and protect the innocent, unfortunately Dunk is not overly wise and more often than not his plans would do more harm than good. His squire, Egg, who is actually the young prince Aegon Targaryen, is wise beyond his years, so the two are a perfect pairing. The tone is lighter and more amusing but still contains the types of writing twists for which Martin is known, as well as some violence, so it is definitely a book for adults.
The first of the three stories, The Hedge Knight, is the tale of the pair’s first meeting and shows how chance can play an important part in deciding one’s fate. The second story, The Sworn Sword, follows the two protecting another knight’s water rights during a drought. The final tale, The Mystery Knight, concerns a rebellion and the fight to win the Iron Throne.
This collected volume includes a number of illustrations that add a lot to the interpretation of the stories and make the work friendly to someone new to either the Game of Thrones world or to fantasy fiction. For a Martin fan, the history and hints of about future plots in the main series, should keep them reading with relish.